Monday, March 7, 2011

Ditch the Scale?

Since I started losing weight, I've been reading more and more blogs and articles about others who have lost weight. I've also inevitably run across advice columns, some of which have this piece of advice: ditch the bathroom scale and just go by how your clothes fit. Really? I'd like to offer a different opinion or perhaps try to clarify this advice.

Before I rain on this parade, let me make one caveat:

If you are trying to overcome an eating disorder or you have a medical condition, and your doctor or therapist tells you to ditch the scale, then absolutely follow their advice.

If, however, you are like the vast majority of Americans like myself who are overweight due to overconsumption and lack of exercise, then I'm sorry, but telling us to ditch the scale is bad advice. One of the reasons for this is that the scale matters at the doctor's office. If I went to the doctor and told her that I don't do scales because I only go by how my clothes fit, she would probably laugh. You see, I'm trying to lose several clothing sizes so "going by how my clothes fit" just doesn't make sense. For the record, I'm down from a size 18 to a size 16.

Another reason why I don't like this advice as it's usually presented is that the numbers don't lie. Sure, you can question the accuracy between different scales; but, if you use your same bathroom scale on a regular basis, and you are cutting back on portions and/or exercising, you will see the numbers go down. I have used my scale every day since December 28th, and it tells me that I have lost 23lbs so far. I also step on the scale first thing every morning. Because body weight can fluctuate throughout the day, I think it's important to weigh yourself at the same time of day each time.

The only situations I can think of when it's safe to ditch the scale are:

  1. You have reached your goal weight and you are trying to maintain it. Then, obviously, you can go by how your clothes fit because you've reached your desired clothing size.
  2. You have reached your goal weight and you are now working on toning and building muscle. Since muscle weighs more than fat the scale might go up, but your body will get leaner because muscle is leaner than fat.

Otherwise, if you have a lot to lose like I do, then seeing the numbers on the scale can be proof that you are on the right track...or not. I'm not saying everyone should weigh themselves every day like I do, but for me, stepping on the scale offers me proof and motivation.

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